This concert was promoting the release of their upcoming album, Game Theory, their first with new label Def Jam. In addition some of the proceeds are going to the family of revered hip hop producer Jay Dee, who recently had his life cut way too short via Lupus. He was remembered throughout the evening. J Dilla was one of the best to ever do it, I will have to dedicate more time to his legacy on a future occasion.
Now, the first notable thing that happened was TAN was recognized while on line getting into Radio City. I was there with my boy who hooked me up with a ticket at the last minute, and while walking in, someone points at me and says, "The Assimilated Negro?" I nodded and kept it moving in line, but my boy was like, "damn son, it's like that now yo. I didn't know you was blowing up like that." All I could say was, "now you know ni**a, recognize the light before your eyes."
So that was nice. And if that girl reads this, then here's your message -- hello there. sorry I couldn't holler at you mami, you was lookin' good and all that. But you know, i was tryin' to get in the concert, so you know, I couldn't really see what was poppin' with you and your crew. But next time mami, next time ...
Next notable thing was the start of the concert. Now the concert was supposed to start at 8. But these are negroes playing for negroes (and others), so I was wondering if maybe I should show up around, I don't know, maybe 10ish. But lo and behold, at 8:05, with Radio City Music Hall maybe half full, Black Thought came out and started holding court with no introduction. The party started promptly, without even waiting for the crowd to fully get in the theater. A bit of a shock, but with 2 1/2 hours of playing to go, it's quite understandable. UPDATE: Turns out if you go over your allotted time at Radio City you get 10K in fines, for every TEN MINUTES over. Obviously $$$ trumps CPTime every time.
The first guest artist to perform was Nas. Which was a bit of a surprise. You expect Nas to be a finale when playing in NYC. But he officially set sh*t off. The Roots ended up playing a couple of their new songs as the crowd filled, and by the time Nas took the stage to Made You Look, we had a full house rise to their feet and start giving some energy.
It was around this time that you could start smelling the weed smoke. Ain't no hip hop concert if no one is sparking, and sparking up in Radio City Music Hall is classic material.
Nas is an interesting artist. He's one of the best, if not the best, emcees and lyricists of all time. he has tons of classic hip hop material. But I've never seen him really deliver in a live performance. He's almost some sort of rhyme-idiot savant, because besides the live performance, in interviews, and basically anything outside of the vocal booth, he doesn't come off nearly as, umm poetic, as he does in his songs. I remember his performance for the MTV video awards (i believe) and he dropped half the lines in his song. In last night's performance, he lived up to the rep, as he couldn't remember the start to his song "the world is yours." Ahhh, sweet irony. When I haven't performed in a long time, and I'm wondering how I'm going to hold up, Nas always emboldens me because yo ucan say, "well i can't execute worse than Nas." That said he is Nas, and he still gets the party jumping regardless. The crowd can do his lyrics for him, so it doesn't really matter.
The other guests who took the stage with The Roots were: Big Daddy Kane, Madd Skillz & (somebody else), Common (good performance, great energy), Talib (ok), Rahzel (wowed the crowd with his vocal percussions, but went a little long), and Kirk Douglas (ten minute guitar solo was great). The last two were part of the band that hosted the whole set, but they got solo time later in the show worthy of being singled out.
All in all, the show was a good one. I was disappointed by the vocal sound quality. There was a broken mic on stage that no one realized wasn't working for way too long. And while you don't expect to understand the words too much at a hip hop concert, at Radio City I thought you might get a little more clarity. Last night it was like, nah son, this is hip hop, chill with the clarity ish.
I was also expecting more surprise guests, especially for such a hefty ticket price. Where's Jigga, where's Mos, where's Dead Prez, where's Kanye? No one really showed up that was a "surprise." Maybe they all come on Day 2 to help out on the R&B night. Dave Chappelle and Erykah Badu showed up on stage at the end of the night, however, to rousing applause, but they didn't do anything.
Speaking of Chappelle, he was supposed to call me about the afterparty jumpoff, but he flaked on me (he flaked on 50 million, obviously he's not going to have a problem flaking on me). So that's the end of the report.
All in all, I haven't been to a real hip hop concert in a while, so it was nice to get back to my roots, so to speak. And it was nice to see hip hop in Radio City Music Hall. And there was no violence that I know of, so while you may have thought that smoke in the air smelled like weed, to me it smelled like progress.
I'll add other good reports/summaries as they come across:
The Checks Must Have Cleared [Straight Bangin']
I'm Sure There'll Be An Update On Okayplayer [okayplayer]
?uestlove Concedes Defeat [?uest's Myspace Blog]